V. S. Ramachandran in Seed Magazine:
What is consciousness? This really breaks down into two questions: The first is the nature of qualia–how does the awareness of sensations like bitter, or painful, or red arise from the activity of neurons? The second: How does the sense of self—the person who experiences qualia—arise?
It has been suggested that the first problem is more tractable and should be tackled before going on to the issue of the self, which has elements of unity, continuity, a sense of agency and less obviously, the attachment of meaning to mere sensations. I disagree. I suggest that qualia (e.g., visual awareness) and self are two sides of a coin; you cannot solve the qualia problem without understanding the self. The reason is obvious: You cannot have “free floating” qualia without a self to experience them and to give them meaning.